Turtlemania: We love turtles
People love turtles. Indeed, the public’s appreciation for these innocuous denizens of our decreasing wetland habitats is increasing.
It’s a good thing the public’s engaged, because all 7 of Quebec’s native turtle species are at risk of extinction.
Good news, though! We can actively protect turtles. Many of us know to carefully carry a turtle crossing a road, for instance, saving it from being killed. Want to be a citizen scientist? Report turtle sightings at the Nature Conservancy’s carapace.ca.
Many of us know that if a turtle shell is cracked, the animal painfully endures a lingering death. Avoiding hitting a turtle is the best strategy. If spotted on the road, drivers should pull over safely and, if traffic isn’t endangering one’s own life, move the turtle across the road to safety, in the direction in which it was going.
Happily, projects exist to protect turtles and educate us about them.
When driving country roads you’ll see low geotextile fences alongside wetlands, stretching beside roadways’ shoulders. Find some in the Pontiac at Ghost Hill Farm’s Breckenridge Conservation Area, where the Nature Conservancy of Canada has worked hard to protect turtles. Fencing prevents them from leaving the safety of their wetlands and crossing the road at extremely dangerous locations such as this steep hill, where it’s often impractical for drivers to stop – or even swerve to avoid an animal.
Canadian Wildlife Federation’s David Seburn
If you listen to CBC, likely you’ve heard or seen interviews with CWF herpetologist David Seburn, who has the enviable task of searching for turtle eggs, collecting and incubating them before releasing the babies into the wild. Seburn releases them in their home wetland, giving them a better chance of survival than if he let nature run its course.
That’s because turtle eggs are a delicious food to natural predators such as racoons and skunks. Similarly, baby turtles are snatched up by other hungry critters: too often, all the nest’s eggs and babies perish. No wonder turtles are on the decline throughout North America – including Quebec.
(Read Seburn’s blog about turtles: bit.ly/3nPoJZi)
Nature Conservancy of Canada Quebec’s turtles
Map, Eastern Musk (Stinkpot), Snapping, Painted, Blanding’s, Wood and Spiny Softshell turtles live in Quebec. NCC’s website presents detailed information about the seven, where we’re told, “[They] are considered to be threatened, vulnerable, or of special concern. This means that keeping these reptiles as pets is prohibited in Quebec.” (allturtles.com/turtles-in-quebec/) Browse the NCC’s searchable website to search for species and information: bit.ly/3aoRx7L)
Call of the Turtle exhibition July 29 – August 21 Vernissage: July 29, 6-8:00 p.m. Turtles on display: August 6, 9:00 Portage du Fort’s Stone School Gallery
New artPontiac President, Cheryl Beillard, spoke to me about her vision. “To me, turtles are among the most inoffensive and vulnerable animals. I have spent years anguishing over the sight of crushed turtles on highways, and of slow-moving turtles, gravid with eggs, attempting to nest on the side of the road, oblivious to the danger they face. This year, after so many months with Covid, I realized I needed to combine my love of art and nature with a cause: to pick one species and see whether I could reverse its downward spiral, even slightly.”
So Beillard sent out a Call to Artists where she said, “The response has been amazing. There’s a large community out there who share my concern and want to work with me, through this Exhibition at the Stone School Gallery, to promote and create empathy, for Turtles of the Ottawa Valley.”
The exhibition is multifaceted: Come to see the artists’ works. Also? On August 6 at 9:00 a.m. meet live turtles, courtesy of Little Ray’s Foundation for Animal Rescue and Education. Then, from 10 -12 am, register for a free Family Workshop: ‘Turtlemania’ where families will make turtle-inspired artworks.
Details & registration info: bit.ly/3IrCqH6
Katharine Fletcher is a freelance writer, author, and visual artist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and view her art at facebook.com/KatharineFletcherArtist/